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When to Use Slow Play in Poker

Slow play is the antithesis of the bluff. Whereas the latter has you calling aggressively with less than a decent hand, engaging in slow play means making weak bets despite possessing a premium hand, or even the nuts.

The theory behind slow play in Poker is that by concealing your strength the other players will be lured into calling and raising more than they normally would. Repeated calls and raises will increase the pot money, and then, the slow player will make the surprise big raise. This will cause everyone to fold, and he will win the pot.

While the idea sounds good in theory it runs into serious problems in real Poker matches. For slow play to work several factors must come into being.

The first question you have to ask when engaging in slow play Poker is this: how strong is my hand? If you have a pair of Kings and another one appears on the flop, you might be tempted to just flat call. However, while a Three of a Kind is strong, there is the possibility that you might get burned at the turn or the river.

If you flat call with the King on the table, your opponent might just get a Straight or even a Flush. While this may seem remote to you, it has happened enough so that veteran Poker players use this tactic sparingly. With slow play there is the chance that instead of increasing the pot you might instead just add strength to your opponent's hand through cheap cards.

Another factor to be considered is that your opponent might be slow playing too. If that happens, the result will be a very small pot. You will just take turns making flat calls and checks.

You should also take a look if the free cards might actually help increase your hand. If you are holding Pairs and the flop gives you the chance to get a higher hand, take the chance and bet on it. Unless you get a Four of a Kind or higher, it is better to just take advantage of the good hands you get than slow play.

Will this strategy work better against certain types of players? Slow play will not work against passive players, because their tendency is to fold quickly; against them the best tactic is to take the pot at the start. You might have a better chance against maniacs and newcomers, who like to call and raise. But again it depends on the situations mentioned earlier.

By now it should be clear why a lot of veteran players rarely use this tactic. Slow play has its uses, and its attraction is understandable, especially to someone who is new to the game of Poker. However, while it can be profitable, it should be used only in the proper situations. That is, when you are sure you have the nuts.

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